Tuesday, September 19, 2023


A little known history of what was for a short time the "capital" of France. 

The Sigmaringen enclave was the exiled remnant of France's Nazi-sympathizing Vichy government which fled to Germany during the Liberation of France near the end of World War II in order to avoid capture by the advancing Allied forces. Installed in the requisitioned Sigmaringen Castle as seat of the government-in-exile, Vichy French leader Philippe Pétain and a number of other collaborators awaited the end of the war.

Scene from "Sigmaringen, capital of France"

The Castle received official designation from Germany as extraterritorialized to France and became a French enclave legally, complete with flag-raising. It was a matter of importance to gain legal recognition for the government in exile from other countries, however at Sigmaringen, there were only the embassies of Germany and of Japan and an Italian consulate which maintained a presence. The governmental commission was thus a legally French enclave from September 1944 through April 1945.

On 21 April 1945 General de Lattre ordered his forces to take Sigmaringen. The end came within days. By the 26th, Pétain was captured after voluntarily returning to France, and Laval had fled to Spain. Brinon, Luchaire, and Darnand were captured, tried, and executed by 1947. Other members escaped to Italy or Spain.

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